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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

I have come to set the earth on fire" (Lk 12:49) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Monthly Reflections

"Come To Me... I Will Give You Rest" (Matthew 11:28) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

One of the basic necessities of life and in fact one of the preoccupations of the world is to look for rest. A good portion of our day is spent taking rest. We try to set aside at least one day every week to rest. We plan how to rest for a few weeks every year. Every person needs to rest and we have been created that way. At the end of the day we are so tired, we long to complete our responsibilities and be rested. In the course of the day itself, we begin to realize that already our minds are tired and our bodies are aching. We make elaborate plans of how to rest and spend much and travel great distances to have a refreshing break. But the question is whether the rest we take really quietens our entire being – soul, mind and body.

The Psalmist describes for us this real rest which perhaps is the deepest yearning of every one of us, "But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother's breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul." (Psalm 131:2) What we have is the divine image of a little baby in the arms of the mother - protected, comforted, at rest. The baby has no concerns. The baby knows in the arms of the mother it is secure. And the psalmist says when he is in the presence of God then he has such perfect rest. He is relieved of all his anxieties as he is held so securely in this presence of God. That is where we too are to find such complete rest – in the loving presence of our God.

"Whoever Enters God's Rest Also Ceases From His Labours As God Did From His" (Hebrew 4:10)

In the beginning of the world we are told that, "on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation." (Genesis 2:2-3) Even God rested! We might interpret that God too was tired by the physical labour involved in creating the world! But this reference is actually God leading us to take time to rest. It is an invitation to find rest in the presence of God. As God rested we need to rest in God. We cannot be working all the time. There are people who work all the seven days of the week. There are those who go for a second shift, a third shift and so on to earn more money. Whatever the purpose or need be, we must realize we need to be rested.

The evangelist Mark describes how after a long mission when the disciples returned to Jesus, He invites them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." (Mark 6:31) He leads the disciples to a place of rest where they could be with Jesus and Jesus could be with them. Here in His presence, they would experience the loving assurance of the Lord and they would be rested and refreshed. This indicates even for us the type of rest we are so much in need of.

"He Makes Me Lie Down In Green Pastures" (Psalm 23:2)

We do spend a lot of time in bed. But it is also true that often when we get up in the morning, we are more tired than when we went to bed. While we remained in bed, perhaps the body had its rest. But the mind did not rest. The tensions and anxieties, the many challenges before us, the sins, the guilt and the fears remained and were not dealt with. The burden we lay down with only festered and grew in us over the night. And in the morning we got up more tired and depressed. There is no new energy for the new day and the new challenges. We are so drained out and exhausted that the gift of the new day is only seen as a burden that is beyond our strength to endure.

Real rest is a rest that refreshes not only our body but our mind and soul also. This way the whole person is rested. After the grind of the day and the weight of our responsibilities, we are in dire need of such quality rest. And this is what Jesus is inviting us to - "Come to me I will give you rest, you who are tired and overburdened." (Matthew 11:28). Every time we feel sad, guilty and anxious, we need to go to Jesus to feel the refreshing Divine presence. When our eyes are dimmed and the way is not clear, when our arms are tired and the lot of life is too heavy, our God waits for us to give us all that we need according to His riches. When in God’s presence we take rest. Then like the psalmist, we will find our souls quieted in the arms of our God as a baby is at rest in the arms of its mother.

"Return, O My Soul, To Your Rest" (Psalm 116:7)

Physical labour tires our body. Stress, distress and tensions tire our mind. Sin and guilt tires our soul. Rest really is meant to be a totally refreshing renewing experience. And this is possible only when I am assured that all my sin is washed away, all my tensions and worries and distress of the mind are removed and my body is relaxed. It is to such an experience that Jesus is calling us when He invites us to rest in His presence.

God through Isaiah gives us a grand prophecy that the Saviour is coming into the world to take up our infirmities and heal our diseases. Jesus came into the world and St. Matthew describes in his gospel how the people "brought to Jesus many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick." (Matthew 8:16) The evangelist continues to explain this saying, "This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.’" (Matthew 8-17) When Jesus came into the world, He gave such rest to everyone who approached Him.

Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector of Jericho and was hated by everyone. He was greedy and lived for money. But this was a man burdened with sin and isolation. He was curious only to see Jesus. He climbed up a tree and waited for Jesus to pass by that he might just get a glimpse of this man of God. But Jesus stopped his journey and called him by name. Jesus went to his house and declared salvation: "Today salvation has come to this house." (Luke 19:9) Zacchaeus was freed of his burdens of greed and isolation. He was received into the embrace of the mercy of God and found his rest. Till that moment, the powers of sin were holding him tight and were bothering him all the time. He was helpless in his sin. But when Jesus came into his life, he felt the fetters of evil breaking down. That is when he was able to give up all the unjust money he had acquired. His soul found its rest and its worth finally in the presence of Jesus.

A Samaritan woman met Jesus while he was resting by the well of Sychar. (John Chapter 4) Jesus gently led her to an experience of salvation. He revealed to her all her sins in a respectful manner. He also revealed to her that He was the Saviour of the world. He had come just for this – to take all that sin away. Now as she looked at the face of Jesus, she recognized the Saviour of the world and the answer for her life. She who was weary and thirsting was renewed and happy. She would rush to proclaim to everyone that she had met the promised Saviour! She had found her rest.

"Blessed Be The Lord Who Has Given Rest To His People According To All That He Promised" (1 Kings 8:56)

By the miraculous pool at Bethsaida, lay a man paralyzed for thirty-eight years. Jesus went up to him and offered healing, "Do you want to be healed?" (John 5:6) Here was Jesus offering rest from all the infirmity and the sorrows of life. This man could not even imagine that he could be healed and that anyone could care. His mind was grieved and broken by his long and great suffering. But to him Jesus offered Himself, "Here am I for you." Jesus reached his hand out, held him and lifted him up. This man got up and walked. He found rest not only for his mind but also for his body and soul.

Jairus, the synagogue leader, was crushed by the fatal illness of his only daughter4. (Luke Chapter 8). Jesus was coming along that way. When Jairus heard this, he rushed to Jesus as his refuge in that critical hour of trial and pleaded with Jesus, "My only daughter is sick." Jesus gave courage to this distressed parent, "I will come with you. Do not be afraid, only believe and she will be well." Jesus went with him and the child that lay dead was raised to life. When Jairus in his great distress turned to Jesus, he found all his anxieties and problems were taken away. He found his rest.

The one brother of the sisters Martha and Mary was dead (John Chapter 11). They were crushed and could see no future for themselves. How were they to live now? The only brother, their refuge was gone! Jesus invited Martha to believe and see the glory of God. As they responded to this invitation, Jesus called him by name "Lazarus, come out!" (John 11:43) The dead man came out alive. The shackles of grief and anxiety were rolled away and in the presence of Jesus they found their rest.

"Whom Have I In Heaven But Thee?" (Psalm 73:25)

What Jesus is constantly calling us to is this true and renewing rest. The rest that each of us need is not isolated to the bodily requirement. Temporary distractions and entertainment cannot provide any answer for the weariness of our life. It is in fact when my soul and mind are quieted that my body too receives real rest. Until all my tensions are taken away, I will never find rest. Until all my sins are forgiven and I receive this assurance in His presence, there will be no rest for me. Until all the anxieties and sorrows of my mind are solved in the presence of my Jesus, I will have no rest. And such rest indeed is what Jesus promises us!

What is needed is for us to turn to Him in trust and offer everything that has gone wrong with our life. And there are many things going wrong all the time. There are always people who shall cross my path. They come to disturb and deceive. All such distressing experiences can lead to two things. I can get angry and disturbed or I can become depressed and frustrated.

We are angry with the people and situations of our life. We nurse revenge in our hearts. A person with anger, hatred and revenge will never be at peace. The need of the hour is to offer that anger and resentment to the Lord. In His presence we shall receive the grace to forgive and to go and get reconciled. Only then, will there be rest for the body, mind and soul.

It could also happen that when we are so let down by people and circumstances, we slip into self-pity and depression. This can even lead to suicidal tendencies. What is needed is to turn to the Lord – and the Lord will give us the one assurance that we need. The Word of God will become real in my life. In our very circumstances we will hear the voice of God promising us, "I will never fail you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5) Here we receive this all-important assurance from God that we are precious to Him and He is there for us. This assurance of love will give us rest. All negative feelings of self pity, helplessness and depression will be vanquished from our hearts.

"The Lord Is Your Shade" (Psalm 121:5)

Today we need to claim this promise in our lives – this promise that He himself will give us rest. This promise is to everyone weighed down by the grind of life. Every moment, wherever we are and whatever we are doing, we need to turn to the Lord and offer to Him the tiredness of the body, mind and soul. And in the evening when we come home, before we go to bed, we must present ourselves to the Lord again. It is not the bed but the arms of the Lord that gives us rest. A person who came for retreat described the big difference in the rest that the Lord gave. He said, "I was always a tensed person. I used to be bothered about many things and my mind never could be still. I could never get good sleep. I would wake up every now and then all through the night. But when I came here for the retreat, I offered my life in the hands of my God. I know my God is in control and that He will turn everything to my good. I began to sleep peacefully in the arms of my Father God."

This indeed is the finding of every great human search. Not just are we made for rest but that our rest is in God. As St. Augustine prayed, "Our hearts were made for you God. And they shall never find rest until they find their rest in you."

Let us pray:

"Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagles." (Psalm 103:1-5)

O Lord, at this moment I come to You for your blessing. I want to bless You and praise You at all times because You forgive my sins and heal my diseases. It is You my God who wipes away my tears. When I’m tired, You give me rest. When I’m overburdened, You refresh my soul.

Lord I come to You at this moment, to offer to You the burden of life. Let me rest at Your feet. I am tired, O Lord. Many problems weigh me down. Teach me to find rest in You. Hold me by the hand and lead me into your arms where I will be refreshed and renewed.
Amen

 
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Divine comes to Chennai with the 'Magnificat on October 21,2017. Fr. Jacob Arimpur VC will lead the services. Music by Worship Culture. With special sessions for children.

Venue: Stella Maris College, Cathedral Road

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Celebrate an evening with our Lord in Bangalore at the 'Magnificat' on October 14, 2017. Services to be led by Fr Jacob Arimpur VC. All are welcome.

Venue: St. Joseph's Boys' School Chapel, Museum Road, Bangalore

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Date: January 2017 - December, 2017

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Dates: Jan - Dec, 2017

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Answer God's call and experience His burning love for you. A three-day convention to be led by Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC and team at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Bangalore. Please spread the word.

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